Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Top Ten Records I Bought Because I Fancied The Singer #1: Oh Carol


OK, I've been threatening this one for a while. Plumbing new depths of embarrassment and shame, I will reveal ten records I bought purely on the basis of fancying the singer. Most of these will sound terrible to modern day ears; some of them even sounded terrible at the time.

We all know there is an inextricable link between pop music and s-e-x. Especially as the main target audience for pop music is teenagers and arguably nobody is more interested in s-e-x than teenagers. (You may choose to dispute that. Who am I to judge?) There is a dark and serious side to this of course: the music industry has been exploiting young female singers for years (watch Charlotte Church's John Peel lecture for her opinion on that), but there's also a case that many female pop stars knowingly choose to exploit their own sexuality to increase their fame. Madonna is the most famous example of this, although curiously, Madonna chose to sex herself up after she'd established herself as a musical force: she was a right scruff-pot when she became famous. Which only goes to prove that it was musical talent which made her... and then her own choice to start flashing her bits to the world. Perhaps the same could be said for the more contemporary example of Rhianna. But when you watch a Rhianna video these days... or pretty much any video featuring a female chart act... they make the sexy videos of my own teenage years seem tame in the extreme. Even Madonna's more raunchy stuff looks quaint now.

Of course, male artists aren't immune to all this. Some have even come out and complained that they feel exploited for their sex appeal. Poor dears. Take a look at a picture of Justin Bieber from 8 years ago and one from today. You think maybe his record company realised his fanbase had grown up a bit and weren't interested in My Little Pony any more? This is a drop in the ocean compared to the way the music industry has exploited young women over the years, but it's one step towards a weird kind of equality...

All that said, I dread to think what pop stars will be doing in videos by the time my boy's a teenager. "It weren't like that back when I were a lad..."




1. T'Pau - Sex Talk

Carol Decker. Of all my teenage pop star crushes, you were the most devastating. The fiery red hair. The aggressive performances. The short skirts... oh yes, those skirts. But while there will be music I now shudder at the very thought of later in this list, I actually think I liked T'Pau for their songs almost as much as for Carol. I bought the Bridge of Spies album on the strength of the first two hits, Heart & Soul and China In Your Hand. I wouldn't call either of them classics, but there was much worse going on in the charts in 1987: the year the 80s went bad. At least T'Pau weren't pumping up the volume or jacking their bodies. At least they had some guitars!

And let's not forget T'Pau were named after an obscure Vulcan from the original Star Trek TV show, and although I was never a Trekkie, at 15 I was watching the Shatner/Nimoy teatime repeats with glee.

However, much as I might make a case for their music, or their sci fi roots, it was Carol who really sold me on T'Pau. In my memory, every TOTP performance featuring the band involved Carol in a micro-skirt with the cameraman lying on the floor and shooting up. Purely in the name of research, I have rewatched a lot of old T'Pau TOTP appearances while writing this post... and in none of them did Carol actually wear a skirt as short as I remember, and in none of them did the cameraman strain his back. This appears to be a false memory from the feverish imagination of a depraved 15 year-old. In fact, if you are so bored as to want to check out Carol's TOTP performances on youtube, you will find her trouser suits and big-lapelled, shoulder-padded jackets to be egregious fashion crimes, even for 1987. The only time she wears anything remotely like I remember...

...is in the video for the single Sex Talk. Which I bought, even though it was 6th single from the album. (It had, apparently been released before the album with the alternative title 'Intimate Strangers', but I never knew this, and neither did the charts.) I suspect it was the video that persuaded me to make this purchase of a song I already owned on the LP. The single was different: a live version as featured in the video. I doubt that would have persuaded me; I generally can't be bothered by live tracks. This was Carol Decker singing about s-e-x though (something I still knew nothing about at 15... and arguably haven't learned a whole lot about since) and to top it off, she even mentioned Spider-Man in the lyrics! This was my kind of woman: I'm telling you, we were destined to be together.

Strangely, that never happened.

Sex Talk remains my favourite T'Pau song, and it's probably the only one I would take a punch for these days, particularly as their subsequent albums (which I bought out of duty rather than love) did very little for either me or the charts.




More of these will follow. And they will plumb depths this blog has never plumbed before.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear about the records you bought purely because you fancied the singer... either in the comments box or, preferably, in your own blog (if you have one: if not, set one up so you can embarrass yourself in a public forum like I do).

21 comments:

  1. A tremendous read Rol. Pity about the music
    Lyndsey de Paul fell into this category for me until I learned she was a Tory
    A gentleman has to have some standards

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    1. Absolutely. You can go right off some people.

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  2. I'm really disappointed. From reading the title and the opening lines about embarrassment I was looking forward to reading about your infatuation with Neil Sedaka. I fell that I have been misled. And "Oh Carol" is a much better tune than anything I've heard from T'Pau.

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    Replies
    1. Can't argue with that. I'm not ready to share my Neil Sedaka fetish just yet though, George.

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  3. China In Your Hand yes, but this is a truly awful song - Your 15 year old hormones had obviously chosen to ignore that!

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  4. Can hardly believe I'm going to type this is a public forum, but I bought (an admittedly reduced, bargain bin copy of) "Rock Vs Opera" by Norwegian duo Dollie De Luxe (no, please don't look it up) because I fancied the one on the left of the cover. It's abysmal, as you might expect from Norway's entry in the 1984 Eurovision Song Contest, and I'm certain I only ever played it once, and even then not all the way through. T'Pau seems high-concept by comparison...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Argghh! My eyes! My eyes!

      You win.

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  5. I was really hoping you'd do this series and what a great start, Rol. Yes, more please! Plumb those depths!
    Reckon most of us can relate to it in some form or other. Donny Osmond was my first, when I was 11/12, but even though I convinced myself I liked Puppy Love, I didn't actually ever buy any Donny or any Osmonds records. I just went one further and joined the Osmonds Fan Club so I could look at pictures, wear badges, look at pictures, read about his favourite fruit/colour/pet or whatever, and look at pictures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd have forgiven you if you'd bought Crazy Horses.

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  6. Sally Carr! http://johnmedd.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/to-remind-me.html

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    Replies
    1. God start... but that can't have been the only one!

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  7. Susan Dey! http://johnmedd.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/lazy-susan.html

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    1. Perfectly understandable, although I found her later via LA Law!

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    2. Debbie Harry! http://johnmedd.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Debbie%20Harry

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    3. Even better. You appear to have done this series before me!

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  8. "I don't want anybody else..." - let's face it, we never stood a chance:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r71xajhDFUo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. That song / performance was obviously created by scientists with precision instruments to guarantee the most effective results.

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